Question, when you were little what did you want to be when you grew up?
Even bigger question, what do you want to be now?
My whole life I always saw having a job and a career as something that would just magically fall into my lap when I finished High School (along with a million dollars, a perfect man and a perfect body- you know what it’s like). When I went off to University to study journalism, I still had that mentality that when I actually did complete my degree I would get a job and everything would just work out. Little did I know…
My first year of University was spent changing my major so.many.times. I was going to be a journalist, teacher, something in advertising and then finally an art historian. I ended up graduating with my honours degree in art history and set out to find a job in an art gallery. Then I found out two things
1) There are a ton of young girls like me graduating with a degree in art history every year, and hardly any jobs.
2) I hate working in the art world!
It was so upsetting to come all this way and then realise that I really did not want to do this forever. I still really love art, but what I like is how it shapes history and can tell us so much about a culture or event. What I didn’t enjoy was working in a tiny gallery, taking to artists who just want to make money and people who buy a painting because it matches the colour of their drapes. It sucked, and I had no idea what to do with myself.
I feel like there is a huge pressure on out generation that our parents didn’t have to endure. We were built up with the idea that studying after High School was the ultimate pathway, that it would ensure a job and life would be great. Unfortunately, we were all told this, and while 20 years ago a girl with a degree in art history could get a fantastic job, now she is forced to do mundane office work that doesn’t require any qualifications – it is a huge slap in the face.
The other problem is that in the rush to graduate, I think most of us jump into the first course that appeals. When it comes down to it, how many people do you know who never once changed their degree or major and really enjoy the work they are doing now? I know that I was not alone amongst my friends when I kept dropping out of papers and taking on new ones.
Part of the problem is that 17 is just too young. I know I have changed so much since I was 17, the person I was when I graduated was a completely different to the girl that walked up and accepted her honours degree. University is the place that shapes you, it’s where you make life long friends and discover what it is that makes you passionate and could turn into a career. So why are we expected to decide on that before we actually get there. Plus the cost of an education is insanely high nowadays, I know many people who start something, don’t enjoy it but will continue because they have spent so much on their fees.
For me, I went overseas to teach English which has been the best decision I ever made. I got through my difficult patch by realising these simple things.
1) No one knows what they want to do, you are not alone! It is totally normal and okay to turn up to work thinking ‘oh my gosh why don’t I love this.’ Talk to your friends about how you feel, it’s all part of this quarter life crisis most of us experience.
2) Think about what you really want out of life and what you love, then find a job that can incorporate it. For me this was travel. I knew that I wanted to travel the world and so I chose working as an English Teacher. One of my friends was studying to be an accountant, then realised how much she loved make up and being creative. Now she is running her own beauty spa and also does work as a make-up artist – awesome!
3) Stop worrying about the future! Seriously, I had a huge 5 year plan that got totally screwed up by this big earthquake that hit my city two years ago (whatup Chch people!). I never could have accounted for it. Businesses were destroyed, lives were ruined and I lost my job in the city. You can have a basic idea about what you want but at the end of the day but you cannot control how life will unfold. You might not discover your dream job for another ten years, and that’s okay! Hey Juilia Child’s was well into her 40s when she published her famous cookbook. Just relax and try to enjoy yourself, whatever will be will be after all.
4) Don’t be afraid! The worst thing then quitting your job to go back to school or travel is staying in a position you hate and regretting the missed opportunity. Yeah, it is scary to realise you want a change, but it is always so rewarding – no one ever regrets making a change like this.
5) It’s YOUR happiness, so put it first!!!!